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The number and percentage of native-born Americans officially unemployed has improved. But the unemployment rate only includes those who have looked for a job in the last four weeks. The number not in the labor force (not working or looking for work) is enormous and has improved little in recent years, remaining well above pre-recession levels.

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  • The unemployment rate for natives in the second quarter of 2015 was 5.4 percent (7.1 million). Despite recent improvements, this is higher than the 4.5 percent rate in the second quarter of 2007 and the 3.9 percent rate in the second quarter of 2000.
  • In addition to unemployment, 27.8 percent (47.9 million) of working-age natives 16 to 65 were not in the labor force, which means they were not working or looking for work. This is much higher than the 25.3 percent rate (42.1 million) in the same quarter of 2007 and the 22.7 percent rate (35.5 million) in 2000.
  • Combining those unemployed with those who are working-age and not in the labor force shows 55 mil- lion native-born Americans without jobs in the second quarter of 2015 compared to 40.3 million in same quarter of 2000.
  • There were also 10.8 million immigrants unemployed or of working-age, but not in the labor force, in the second quarter of 2015.
  • In addition to those unemployed and not in the labor force, there were 6.5 million immigrants and na- tives working part-time, but looking for full-time work.
  • In total, there were 72.3 million natives and immigrants unemployed, not in the labor force (16 to 65), or forced to work part-time in the second quarter of this year.

The key policy question facing the country with regard to immigration is: Does it make sense to continue to admit a million new permanent immigrants each year, along with several hundred thousand guest workers, given the enormous pool of people not working or trying to find full-time work?